Archives For Money

By Eric on May 13, 2014 8

Ah, the tax refund… seems like such a good thing right? We lend the government our money throughout the year, they over-spend it, then send it back to us the following Spring. While taxes are a certainty in our culture, we try to reduce our refund as much as possible by adjusting our withholdings at work, but that can be tricky too.

Tax Refund 2014

Having a baby kind of through things off in 2012 (in a good way), but I think we’ve settled into a sweet spot for now when it comes to filing our taxes. In 2013 we pretty much broke even. We had been socking away a good portion of money that our online efforts were bringing in, knowing we’d have to pay taxes on those dollars, which left us with a good bit in set aside.

That process was based on our tax situation from 2012 and our friend Mary (CPA) gave us some guidance on how to approach saving to pay for taxes on that extra non-taxed income. So we simply took a cut off the top of whatever came in each month and set it aside to pay for taxes when the time came.

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By Eric on May 8, 2014 5

Is debt really that bad? Why is debt bad? What’s the point of paying off debt? All valid questions that need to be answered before getting serious about moving forward toward other important financial goals. Important financial goals is a relative term for which you’ll have to look inside yourself to find the answer. But I’ll provide a few scenarios for context. Perhaps you’re wanting to make it through one of these scenarios…

  • Have children and either mom or dad wants to stay at home with the kids.
  • Transition jobs, but are afraid of backsliding financially.
  • Dream of starting your own business, but the financial startup is too much to think about.
  • Want to give to worthy causes, but always feel insecure that the money you are giving will be needed to keep the lights on next month.

Definition of Debt: something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another. Take a deep breath and read that definition again. Something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another. That’s not fun in anyway. The only fun is the moment in which our desires are satisfied by the “thing” that we’re willing to go into debt for.

Debt makes life blurry

Another way to put it: The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender. - Proverbs 22:7

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By Eric on May 1, 2014 14

2014 is the first year we’ve purchased a Costco membership. I’ve been skeptical of membership stores like Costco, or Sam’s Club, because I always wonder if I could really save money, or if I would just end up buying a bunch of stuff I don’t need. And because even getting in the door requires a membership, I haven’t seen the benefits….until now.

costco organic eggs

Read below to see how much we will save on organic eggs this year at Costco.

While skeptical, there was always part of me that wanted to try it out to see if I could find a way to make it work for our family. So, this experiment is exactly that… what works for our family. I’m hoping that you can adapt this into your family and household situation.

Since we’ve started budgeting as a family nearly four years ago, we’ve become pretty disciplined in creating and sticking to a grocery list. Aside from splurging here and there on Ben and Jerry’s (my weakness) we stay away from what’s not on our list.

We pounced on the Costco membership when Kelsey scored a living social deal for half price followed by posting about the deal on Facebook, where we earned the rest of our money back within a few hours.

But, let’s assume the goal was to convince you that you can earn your money back by buying everyday grocery items at Costco… We have the Gold Star Membership which costs $55 per year. There is also an Executive Membership for $110 per year. The difference is that with the Costco Executive Membership you earn 2% on MOST purchases throughout the year (up to $750 back). Likely worth it for us next year. Let’s look at the numbers…

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By Eric on April 25, 2014 6

If you cringe when you hear the phrase “tight budget,” you’re likely not alone. I cringe too. I don’t want to be known as a tight-wad when it comes to money. And I don’t think that I am. I have been blessed in many ways over the years, but there have certainly been times when money has been tighter than others.

Tight Budget

I suppose it’s a loaded question anyway. Is there just one right answer? I don’t think so. I think there are some principles that can help you find a balance that works for you. After all, they do call it, personal finance!

What constitutes a “tight budget,” anyway?

I would say that “tight budget” is relative to your spending situation before you started focusing on your finances. Our budget is far tighter and focused simply by budgeting all of our income before the month begins. There are certainly fun things that we budget for, but it’s intentional now that we’re budgeting.

It all comes down to managing the tension and stress that comes with personal finances. Most people struggle with feeling like they never have enough. Or that their not as far along financially as they wish. Heck, I struggle with this sometimes, too. It’s natural, and a bit of tension can help keep us motivated.

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By Eric on April 21, 2014 +

Gasoline, gas or fuel. Whatever you want to call it, budgeting for gas is the most annoying category. Gas prices float up and down constantly, making it hard to budget before the month begins. This past few weeks, prices in Des Moines were below $3.30. And when I looked the other day they were up to $3.49. Ugh!

Gas pump

The short answer to make budgeting for gas easier for everyone would be to stop the powers that be from moving them up and down all the time. I wish I had that kind of influence. The next best thing we can do is try to make a plan to accommodate our reality. That or stop driving motorized vehicles… or buy a Tesla… but paying for a Tesla has it’s own set of issues. Back on point…

This kind of fluctuation can cause enough stress to make you want to give up on budgeting all together. Fear not, I have some tools to help!

How to make budgeting for gas easy

  1. Track spending: We use an iPhone app called Gas Cubby (available in the App store) to track our fuel consumption. We also input our mileage and the app has tracked our MPG and cost of operation on our vehicles since November 2009. Over time we’ve been able to see how much we spend on average every month in our fuel category.Gas Cubby app report
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